“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Wilsford's Unusual Lodge(r)

The gravestone in the below photographs can be found in St. Michael’s Churchyard in Wilsford (near Amesbury) in Wiltshire. The inscription on the gravestone reads:

To The Memory of Her Husband
Oliver Joseph Lodge
Born 12 June 1851
Died 22 August 1940
Thankful For The Lover Which Has
Surrounded Him Throughout His
Time On Earth Full of Certainty
About Continued Existence
And Hopeful That His Writings May
Be A Comfort To The Bereaved

The gravestone is in memorial to Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge who was born in Stoke-on-Trent on the 12th June 1851 and who died near Wilsford on the 22nd August 1940. Lodge was a successful British Physicist whose illustrious career included holding the posts of Professor of Physics and Mathematics at University College, Liverpool and becoming the first Principal of Birmingham University, when it received its Royal Charter in 1900. Lodge's achievements resulted in him being knighted by King Edward VII and made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1902. In 1928 Lodge was given the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent.

During his scientific career Lodge's work included investigating lightning and electrolysis. However, Lodge's chief area of interest was electromagnetics and he seems to have been taken by the in-vogue theory of the Ether (the wave-bearing medium that was postulated to fill all space), and worked on the generation and detection of electromagnetic waves. Lodge is credited with perfecting "the coherer", a type of radio-wave detector, and as being the first person to transmit a message by a wireless signal, which he did in 1894. Lodge also pioneered the use of inductors and capacitors to adjust the frequency of wireless transmitters and receivers, and he invented the electric spark plug for the internal combustion engine, which was known as the "Lodge Igniter".

Outside of Lodge's mainstream scientific studies he also studied psychical phenomena including telepathy, was a member of the Ghost Club and served as president of the Society for Psychical Research from 1901 to 1903.

Lodge's acceptance of the theory of the Ether and his Christian faith may have had a bearing on his belief in life after death, and that the Ether may be host to a spirit world.  Lodge pursued these beliefs in 1914, following a family tragedy. Lodge had six sons, and his youngest son, Raymond, was killed during action in Flanders on the 14th September 1915. Following Raymond's death Lodge visited mediums Gladys Osborne Leonard and Alfred Vout Peters and began to communicate with his dead son. Lodge's scientific background meant that he regularly tested the mediums and probed them for information that only his son would know, and it seems that he failed to find any reason not to believe that he was in communication with his dead son. As a result of these séances Lodge became convinced that there was an afterlife and in 1916 he published an account of his son's adventures in the spirit world called "Raymond or Life and Death".

The dawning of the theory of relativity in the 1920's put an end to the need for an Ether, and as such it passed out of scientific vogue. Lodge however did not accept the new theory of relativity and remained steadfast in his belief in the Ether and in the afterlife.

In a final attempt to prove the existence of an afterlife it is said that just before his death that Lodge deposited a sealed message with the Society for Psychical Research. His aim was to be able to communicate the contents of this sealed message from the afterlife via the use of a medium. It seems however that the results of Lodge's final scientific experiment where deemed inconclusive and the existence of an afterlife still remains to be confirmed.

St. Michael’s Church in Wilsford, Wiltshire.
A memorial to Lodge and his wife, on the corner of the church's wall
Lodge's gravestone.

Pictures: Wiltshire (October 2014).

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